We Have Returned!

George Russell and Wilfred Aldridge spent their younger days serving at Royal Army Pay Corps in Kure 1954-55. The two arranged this “Return to Kure” tour.


Q: How did you get involved in the work of arranging the tour?


Aldridge: In 1990 I met and talked to a young Japanese girl learning English in Norwich, my hometown. When she returned to Japan, she visited Kure and tried to find my old camp just behind Kure station to surprise me. But she could not find it out. Instead she gave me the address of Takeshi Chida san, who works for Kure City History Section (KCHS). I wrote to him to explain my interest in Kure and sent him a few of my old photographs of the city and the camp. He wrote back and told me they were researching the history of the city and that they’d like to use my photos. He also said he would like me to contact other old military people. So I wrote to a local newspaper, the Eastern Daily Press, soldier’s magazines and other organizations including Channel 4 of National Television. We had about 350 people reply to the advertisements. From those 350, about 250 supplied photographs, souvenirs, old

books, and small articles, all of which were sent to Chida san. Since then I’ve been continuing to carry  out the research. In the meantime, one man passed away, so his 

wife gave me his contribution to be sent and kept in KCHS. I myself very much enjoyed the work of looking at old photos, meeting old friends, talking to new friends on the phone, and writing letters on my computer. Anyway, from my research, many men said they’d like to go back to Kure, and my wife wanted to visit, too. So here we are.                                                                   George Russell (left) and Wilfred Aldridge

                                                                                          holding his old camera he bought at 

Q: What was Kure like when you first came?           Yamashiroya camera shop on Hodori in 1954


Russell: After the war, the center of Kure, all the factories and working lots were bombed flat. I had not been in combat during the war, but I had to come on the troop. When we changed direction for the river, there were people living in the drains, pipes along the river. This has stayed in my mind. Those people made us feel very welcome then. Japan to me, is a place I cannot remember without tears.


Aldridge: During the war, just as in Japan, we were told how terrible the Japanese were through government propaganda. As a young boy, we were told to come to Japan. Our parents were very worried about us. We did not know what to expect, but when we arrived here we found out how pleasant Japan really was, and how nice people were.


Q: What’s your impression now, after 45 years?


Aldridge: Wonderful. You have done a marvelous job of rebuilding. It’s strange, but I feel like I’m returning home. Of course as our people go back to England, they’ll tell other people about the nice reception and friendships we have here in Japan.


Russell: A miracle! Your city now is very beautiful. When we saw a video of the present Kure at our reunion meeting in Norwich, we did not recognize Kure.


 Q: What would you like to see most during your stay in Japan?


Aldridge: Kure, where my old camp used to be, then Miyajima. I went there when I was younger.


Russell: I’ve always wanted to return. I want to see my old friends here, it’s my dream. When I was nineteen, I made a lot of friends at the church. Paul (Yutak Tsukada) is one of them. Just inside the camp gate, there was a church. Japanese used it, along with New Zealanders, Australians, and Canadians. There was not Christian sect at the church. We just had a gathering and joined once a week. I spent a lovely Christmas there. We could not understand what had happened during the war between our countries. We hope that would never, ever happen again. The members of KCHS found Paul and other my old friends for me. It’s very gracious of them. My dream has come true!


They are already in discussion to arrange a future visit group who were not able to attend this time.


#92 Parkway Vol.14 No.1 January - March 2000




英陸軍経理部隊兵として青春時代を呉で過ごした。 2人はこの "呉に帰る"ツアーを計画した。 






Q; 1954年、初めて来られた時の呉はどんなでしたか。












ラッセル:私はずっと帰ってきたいと思っていました。ここで旧友に会いたい、それが私の夢です。19歳の時、教会で友達がたくさんできました。ポール(塚田ユタク)もその一人です。駐屯地の門を入ってすぐのところに教会があったのですが、日本人も、ニュージーランド人、オーストラリア人、カナダ人と一緒に使っていました。宗派は関係ありませんでした。週に1度集まり、素敵なクリスマスも過ごしました。戦時中、国の間で起こったことはよく知りませんが、決して再び起こらないことを願っています。 編纂室の人が、ポールや私の旧友を見つけてくれました。感謝しています。私の夢は実現しました!